Saturday, 27 August 2011

Free Ereaders Coming Soon!

I’ve been thinking about the publishing industry and, more specifically, about where the publishing industry is headed and what it will mean for readers and authors - the rise of ebooks, the decline of print books etc etc. And then something occurred to me. Ereaders will soon be free.

Of course they will. It’s blindingly obvious to me now. Kindles and Nooks and Kobo Readers will be given away or sold for a fraction of their current price. Surely the real revenue is in the thousands of books we download each month. If Amazon wants to sell Kindle books, it has to make sure everyone owns a Kindle.

Maybe readers will pay a monthly subscription, like a mobile phone tariff. For example: Get a free Kindle 3G for a monthly payment of $20 and receive 4 free downloads.

As authors, we might even be given the opportunity to opt in to the ‘monthly subscription programme’, where we receive a set fee each time a reader chooses our ebook as one of their monthly downloads.

At the moment, a lot of video games consoles are sold at a huge loss because the games themselves are where the money is. So it follows that the same could happen with Ereaders.

And where would this leave the author? Wouldn’t it eventually make more sense to go directly to the ereader manufacturer rather than via a traditional publisher?

So this takes me back to my initial pondering about where the publishing industry is heading. What of the traditional publisher? In the short term, print books will still be around, but if everyone owns a free ereader, why would anyone want a paperback? Aside from nostalgic and aesthetic reasons, of course.

As an author, I can buy in editing, design and formatting from freelancers, get it straight from Amazon or do it myself. Which means, one day maybe we’ll all be indie authors. Interesting times.


  1. Very interesting times, Shalini! And oh so EXCITING too!!
    It's a fab time to be an author, me thinks : )

  2. It's a great idea but don't know if it will ever happen. As I asked a few days ago - what happens to all the money Amazon doesn't pay out because the minimum level for payment hasn't been reached? with something like half a million ebooks to pick it stands to reason lots only sell a few copies. This money could be put into providing free readers. But it will be a few years before we get rid of the people who say 'I like to feel a book, turn the pages, smell the print.' Can't understand why myself, but so far I only know 3 people who have an ereader and lots who still read books.

  3. I guess we're in the same place with books, that we were with vinyl records and CDs a few years back and I don't know anyone who buys CDs anymore. But as for free ereaders, I just thought it would be a natural progression. It might not happen, but it would make sense if it did.